If you’ve known me professionally for any length of time, you have likely heard me mention my good friend Heidi Massey.
Massey is my Twitter coach for business and, while I may be biased, I don’t believe that there’s anyone better. I defend that position with the following two points:
- Using Twitter as her networking and communications tool, Massey organized and held a real-world conference which brought together technology and non-profit organizations to explore ways of using the former within the latter.
- You can read more about Massey’s efforts to coordinate that event via Twitter at, “Chicago COUNTs conference – a Chicago Twitter success story“.
- Thanks to her activity on Twitter, Massey has been interviewed by both the New York Times and Crain’s Chicago Business (twice!).
While the holidays were upon us, I took the opportunity to sit down with Massey to talk about her continued success on Twitter and to try and pry every last of her secret twitter methods out of her so I could share them with you.
Down to the River
In our time as “coach and coachee”, Massey has made two metaphors which have really stuck with me and well describe her core beliefs about Twitter. To start our conversation rolling, I asked her to comment on each.
“Twitter is like a river. You can dip in your hand and sample the flow or you can fall in and drown.” – Heidi Massey
Massey loves Twitter. “If I had my choice,” she said, “I’d be on there all day.”
But she understands the value of focus.
“At first, my focus was really broad,” said Massey. “I followed everyone who seemed interesting and found myself chatting away all day. That changed as I began to hone-in on the people and communities that mattered to me and my business.”
Massey warns however, that the concept of focus should not be too narrow or it can be self-defeating.
“A lot of business folks get on Twitter and only engage the people with whom they want to do business,” she said. “The problem there is if you just connect to your traditional potential clients, you are missing 2/3 of the people you want to connect with.”
When asked to explain, she used one word, “Referrals”.
As an example, Massey asked me to consider a photographer friend who uses Twitter. At first, he was only reaching out to wedding and event planners who are the type of folks who have traditionally hired him. She suggested a different approach.
“I told him to set up Twitter searches using TweetDeck which helped him find folks talking about weddings,” she explained. “Then, I told him to reach out and engage with them by asking if they had any photography questions that he could answer.”
The approach worked – the photographer became a resource to many people and, when those folks were asked by others to recommend an event photographer, the referrals started rolling in via Twitter.
Don’t fall in the river, but also don’t sample so little of the flow that you die of thirst.
Connect and Engage
“Twitter is like a crowded room with two types of people: some folks engage and talk with other folks and some stand on a chair and yell out facts and links whether you want to hear them or not. Next to whom would you rather stand?” – Heidi Massey
When I asked her to reveal the secrets of achieving business success via Twitter, Massey laughed.
“There are no real secrets to Twitter,” she said. “If anything, it’s just what it looks like: a place to engage and socialize with people.”
In the parlance of Malcolm Gladwell’s, “The Tipping Point”, Massey considers herself a, “connector”; someone in a community who knows large numbers of people and who is in the habit of making introductions.
I can attest to her ability in that role as she has introduced me to many folks who have been influential in the development of my own business.
To Massey, Twitter is like a huge networking meeting that goes on 24/7, and she believes that the key to success is real engagement with real people.
“I honestly don’t care if I ever land a client via Twitter,” she said. “Twitter is my place to connect and build my network of resources and potential referrals.”
When asked about, “resources”, Massey commented, “When I don’t know how to do something, Twitter is a great place to reach out to for advice: ‘Here I am, what do I do next?'”
Boiled-Down: The Twitter Networking Guru’s Strategy
“My first experiences with Twitter lead to the Chicago COUNTs conference,”said Massey, “But they also helped me solidify a strategy on using the tool.”
To Massey, Twitter is four things:
- Making Connections
- Referral Network
Put that in a sentence and her strategy is to:
“Use Twitter to make connections that turn into relationships with people who become knowledge resources and a large referral network.”
In a time when so many businesses are searching for ways to use social media tools such as Twitter, Massey’s strategy is a solid approach which yields results.
Not bad for 140 characters at a time.